Decarbonised fuels and CCUS
Current demands and the need to ensure the UK’s energy security will see us continue to use fossil fuel resources for some time as we make the energy transition.
This means that work to find cleaner methods of using conventional fuels and research into methods of capturing, using or storing the resulting carbon is vital.
Carbon capture, usage and storage
Our main area of research for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), is in the capture of carbon before it is released into the atmosphere. This includes using new, high capacity adsorbents which capture CO2 either pre or post-combustion. After capture, CO2 is compressed and pumped through underground pipes to be stored in the seabed or depleted oil, gas and coal deposits under the sea. Researchers from the fields of chemical and environmental engineering, chemistry and geography are currently collaborating with Rolls-Royce, E.ON and others to create the compressors and pipelines needed to do this, while also taking into account safety and the environmental impact of storing the CO2 underground. Research is highly collaborative and we work with internationally leading research centres.
The photochemical reduction of CO2 using light from the sun has been a topic of long-standing and worldwide interest, particularly as this can result in new commodities such as chemicals or carbon-neutral fuels. However, the rarity of essential catalysts presents a critical barrier to future developments. We are working to remove the dependence on a sacrificial reducing agent and on the creation of a solar nano-device which will drive the coupled photo-conversion of methane and carbon dioxide into methanol and carbon monoxide respectively. This is a challenging target which differs fundamentally from the familiar one of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
CO2 properties and transport
An accurate understanding of the physical properties of captured CO2 is essential for the development of design standards for the construction and regulation of transport and compression systems. We are working with industry on research which will inform a wider collaboration to enable the construction and operation of a CO2 pipeline network in the UK.
Coal and biomass utilisation
We are exploring ways to make the burning of coal, oil and biomass more efficient, reducing the waste that remains at the end of the burn. Using test facilities at the University of Nottingham, we are working on a number of collaborative projects.
Oil, gas and the environment
We are extending the life and safety of plants in the offshore oil and gas industry by conducting research in risk modelling of safety critical systems, while applied geochemistry focuses on better predicting oil and gas generation using techniques such as Hydropyrolysis (hypy). This works in areas where contamination prevents conventional analysis being used.
The academic theme lead for Decarbonised Fuels and CCUS is:
Professor of Energy Engineering
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